BOOK REVIEW: THE ODD THOMAS SERIES by DEAN KOONTZ

HONORABLE MENTION #1

THE ODD THOMAS SERIES by DEAN KOONTZ

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While this is, of course, primarily a movie blog, I will occasionally review a book now and then, especially if it has some significance to movies. As this entertaining series had it’s first book adapted into an underrated and fun flick by Stepehen Sommers, I figured why not review the whole series as it has reached it’s final chapter by it’s author, Dean Koontz! Sadly, the movie Odd Thomas was sent straight to home media, but I would love to see the franchise continue in movie form with the perfectly cast Anton Yelchin returning as Odd! UPDATE: Obviously this statement was written before Anton Yelchin’s tragic death -MZNJ

WARNING!: Some of the reviews may reveal spoiler-ish information about the previous book. I tried to avoid this as much as possible, but it wasn’t always easy to convey the story without giving away some details of the previous installment!

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ODD THOMAS by DEAN KOONTZ

I decided to check this book out after seeing the movie adaptation, which I liked very much. The book was a lot of fun, as was the film. It was delightfully offbeat with a truly endearing cast of characters and a suspenseful plot with hero Odd going up against some very supernatural and very human evils. A really entertaining and fast paced read…and who could resist a hero that is befriended by a spectral Elvis Presley? Anyone interested in checking out Stephen Sommers’ movie adaptation, it captures the spirit and a lot of the action of the book quite well and Anton Yelchin is perfectly cast as Odd as is Addison Timlin as Stormy Llewellyn.

four stars rating

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FOREVER ODD by DEAN KOONTZ

I enjoyed this second adventure of Dean Koontz’s offbeat hero, it’s not as good as the first book, but it is an enjoyable read and Thomas is such a likable and delightfully eccentric character that he gets you through any of the weak spots with his engaging wit and offbeat commentary. This book picks up six months after the last one with Odd still suffering the effects of the mall shootings. While he saved hundreds, there were still close to two dozen who did perish, his beloved Stormy among them. But things don’t stay quiet long for Odd, as a longtime friend is kidnapped and the boy’s father murdered by a sinister occult-obsessed woman and her two dangerous thugs. Odd tracks them to a burnt out casino in the desert only to find his friend is just bait in a trap and Odd himself is the actual prey. Can he get himself and his friend out alive?

While the story is on a smaller scale and the villainous Datura is a more over-the-top villain than he faced last time, she is a fun and detestable bad girl and Odd’s cat and mouse games with her and her thugs in the maze of burnt out casino floors and hallways is quite fun. Sure, it doesn’t have the suspense or mystery of the first book, but it still is an entertaining tale, even if on a smaller scale and it’s just fun to spend more time with Odd. He’s a great character. The one thing I do really miss though, is his camaraderie with Stormy. Their dialog exchanges were priceless in book one, but Odd’s inner monologue narration is certainly a lot of fun as always. Not an equal but an enjoyable sequel.

3 star rating

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BROTHER ODD by DEAN KOONTZ

I really enjoyed what is the ‘oddest’ Odd Thomas adventure, so far, from author Dean Koontz. After the events of the last book, Odd decides he needs a break from the real world and the supernatural and goes to the monastery of St. Bartholomew’s Abbey for some peace, quiet and reflection. But the supernatural finds him, as an appearance by the harbingers of doom, the Bodachs, signals something terrifying is about to befall this peaceful retreat of monks, nuns and orphaned children. Once again Odd is put to the test as something he’s never encountered before starts stalking and killing in this idyllic place and Odd himself has seen this form of death incarnate. And what does a mysterious Russian monk and an eccentric genius turned holy man possibly have to do with it?…maybe nothing, or maybe everything, but will Odd Thomas find out in time?

I really enjoyed that author Koontz set such a strange adventure for Odd in such a, by contrast, peaceful yet remote place. He goes outside the box here taking his story beyond the supernatural in a very entertaining tale that echos The Name Of The Rose, The Seventh Sign and a dash of James Bond. In other hands it might have been a mess, but Koontz is no stranger to mash-ups, he’s done it long before that became a pop culture phrase. Here he makes his story work and no better glue to hold it together then the wonderfully engaging and endearing Odd Thomas. A fun, fast read that takes us in new directions yet, still gives us all we want from an Odd Thomas novel. Chilling and fun with a very engaging cast of characters!

three and one half stars rating

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ODD HOURS by DEAN KOONTZ

I really love Koontz’s Odd Thomas character and this is the first adventure of his that I was really disappointed with. The story takes Odd into James Bond territory as his stop in the shore community of Magic Beach leads him, his ghost dog Boo and the spectral Frank Sinatra into a plot that has corrupt locals allowing an undisclosed Middle Eastern country to deliver four nuclear weapons to their shores to be distributed to various U.S. targets.

The adventure doesn’t seem to fit the character, as it would Bond, or TV’s Jack Bauer and the supernatural elements that are usually well integrated in Odd’s stories are used here in very silly ways…Sinatra’s poltergeist activities…or simply as plot conveniences to get Odd out of trouble. Not to mention that the most intriguing new characters all take a backseat to the bland generic villains. After three previous efforts that were all very entertaining in various degrees, this installment would have been a complete disappointment if it weren’t for Odd himself who is still a delightful character, despite that the book takes him to places I was sad to see his character go. Not a complete waste of time, but very disappointing and hopefully Odd’s drastic actions in this book don’t sully a very unique and enjoyable character

2 star rating

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ODD INTERLUDE by DEAN KOONTZ

Odd Interlude was a special adventure written by Koontz that was originally only available digitally, but finally found it’s way to print. It is set between Odd Hours and Odd Apocalypse during a stopover at a roadside motel/diner/service station by the name of Harmony Cove. Here Odd encounters the Harmony family who are trapped and being controlled by strangely powerful man by the name of Dr. Hiskott. Odd is obligated to save them, but Hiskott knows he is there and would use the helpless Harmony family as tools to see Odd and his companion Annamarie, dead.

I really liked this book, it was very much like an episode of The X-Files with secret government research facilities, artificial intelligence, alien artifacts and DNA, and the horrifying result of that DNA’s mix with an already off-kilter scientist. It’s a fast read and a lot of fun and despite the previous events of Magic Beach, Odd seems more like his old humorous self. It’s a very enjoyable entry in the series and ranks with the better of the sequel books. A lot of fun. Too bad Odd didn’t take Jolie along with him, she was an engaging character.

three and one half stars rating

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ODD APOCALYPSE by DEAN KOONTZ

Next installment of the Odd Thomas series is much better than the disappointing Odd Hours though, not as good as Odd Interlude.  It does, though, take Odd in an intriguing H.G. Wells direction, with elements of time travel/management, eternal youth and mutant creatures from the future. When Odd and Annamarie find themselves staying as guests of an eccentric billionaire and his equally off staff, Odd is soon visited by spirits and off to right wrongs that may have been committed ages ago and somehow frozen in time. But with the appearance of mysterious and very vicious creatures and the increasingly strange behavior by his hosts, Odd finds himself running out of time in a place where time may be both standing still and tearing apart.

I enjoyed the book. The effects of the events of Odd Hours seem to weigh heavier on Odd in this story and though he is witty as ever, there is now a bit more of darkness to him as he tries to come to terms with those effects. The H.G. Well-ish story involving time control machinery created by Nikolai Tesla himself is entertaining and includes a mysterious little boy, mutations that may be from a future time and the ghost of Alfred Hitchcock. It returns Odd to more supernatural events with a Sci-Fi twist and while it doesn’t fit him 100%, it is far more of an Odd Thomas story than the ‘Die Hard At The Beach‘ that was the disappointing Odd Hours. And as far as his new companion, the pregnant Annamarie, I do have to admit her speaking in constant riddles and never really contributing much to the stories is getting tiresome already. Do something with the character soon, Mr. Koontz, or move on. She’s more annoying than intriguing. An entertaining book, but still not quite up to level of some previous entries.

3 star rating

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DEEPLY ODD by DEAN KOONTZ

Deeply Odd takes Odd Thomas back in more supernatural territory with the “Odd One” going up against a group of well organized and powerful demon worshipers led by a deranged, truck driving “Rhinestone Cowboy” intent on a sacrificial slaughter of 17 innocent children, unless Odd, an eccentric old woman named Edie and, none other than, the ghost of Alfred Hitchcock can stop them.

Deeply Odd is a fun book and reminded me of a dark, supernatural Smokey And The Bandit as Odd and Eddie, in her souped up limo, chase the 18 wheeler driving cowboy…who, Odd’s skills tell him is at the center of the planned slaughter…across highways till it’s climactic confrontation in a secluded farmhouse. There are chases, escapes and alternate dimensions and even a soul sucking demon who likes to wear Odd’s face, give or take a few eyes. The book smartly keeps Annamarie on the sidelines, which was fine with me, as the character’s speaking in riddles has worn out it’s welcome and despite the changes in Odd, has returned some of his more ‘buoyant in the face of danger’ personality and charming self-defacing humor. Definitely the best book since the delightful Brother Odd.

three and one half stars rating

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SAINT ODD by DEAN KOONTZ

With his newest and final book in the series, Dean Koontz brings his para-normally gifted hero Odd Thomas full circle. The book opens with Odd racing home to his beloved Pico Mundo to head off the same cult he thwarted in Nevada in the last book. They are on their way to his hometown with mayhem and mass murder on their minds and they know who Odd is and he is among their primary targets. Now Oddie must join forces with old friends and new, to stop whatever fiendish plan these crazed demon worshipers have in mind. But time may be running out in more ways than one, as the closer Odd Thomas gets to home, the closer he feels he comes to finally being reunited with his dead love Stormy, as fulfillment of the fortune teller’s promise from long ago…YOU ARE DESTINED TO BE TOGETHER FOREVER!

Obviously, this book was a bittersweet experience for someone like me who has really enjoyed this series and loved the Odd Thomas character. Thankfully Koontz gives us a very fitting conclusion, in what is one of the series’ best books since the first. It’s no surprise he would bring Odd back to Pico Mundo for the finale and it was great to not only have Odd back on familiar turf, but working again with friends Ozzie Boone and Chief Wyatt Porter. We also have appearances from Odd’s new allies like the mysterious and energetic spinster Edie, who heads a secret organization out to thwart the evils of the world, and the enigmatic Annamarie, but Koontz keeps their involvement to a minimum and let’s Odd Thomas take center stage for his final adventure. The book is a blisteringly fast and engaging read and is a very suspenseful and entertaining story that brings the adventures of the gifted fry cook with a mission to a very satisfying end. Whether he reunites with his lost love or not, is up to you to find out, but Koontz gives this series a great send-off and finishes Odd’s adventures with one of his best. A really good book and a finale that ends the series with the conclusion it deserves. I will greatly miss this character and this series.

four stars rating

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HALLOWEEN HOTTIES: HALLOWEEN HOTTIE OF 2014…ADDISON TIMLIN!

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ABC's "Zero Hour" - Season One

MONSTERZERO NJ’S HALLOWEEN HOTTIE OF 2014…ADDISON TIMLIN!

This newest installment of Halloween Hotties features our Halloween Hottie Of 2014, the lovely and very talented Addison Timlin, who easily earns this title by appearing in, not one, but, two of MonsterZero NJ’s Best Horror Flicks Of 2014!…and knocking it out of the park with two very different characters in two films with starkly different tones.

(Click on the highlighted links or on the movie posters to read a review of the film’s that have earned her Halloween Hottie of 2014!)

HONORABLE MENTION #1

ODD THOMAS

Who didn’t fall madly in love with Addison’s feisty, adorable and fiercely loyal Stormy Llewellyn? As the girlfriend of the movie’s paranormally gifted hero, Odd Thomas, the brown-eyed beauty practically stole the flick away from its star with her sweet smile, confident smirk and the one-two punch of her in daisy dukes and that yummy Burke and Bailey’s Ice Cream Shop uniform. Stormy stands by her man no matter how weird the situation gets and we can plainly see why Odd believes her to be his one and only…It also helped greatly that Timlin and the perfectly cast Anton Yelchin had a great on-screen chemistry together!

 

Scene stealing Addison Timlin as Odd Thomas’ Stormy Llewellyn!

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And her disturbing second feature…

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THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN 2014

While Odd Thomas was a darkly whimsical, supernatural thriller, this clever and very chilling flick was remake, sequel and homage all-in-one to the 1976 horror classic of the same name. This was a vicious, bloody and straightforward horror that saw Addison as Jami Lerner, a young woman being stalked by a copycat killer imitating ‘The Phantom’ from the original movie…and the real-life crimes that inspired it. This strong-willed woman, played with a quiet strength by Miss Timlin, decides to fight back, though, and the masked hunter becomes the hunted! Addison takes center stage in this intense flick and proves she is leading lady material…and a great final girl!

 

A strong and intense performance by Addison Timlin as The Town That Dreaded Sundown’s Jami Lerner!

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Addison Timlin will be seen again soon as Lucinda Price in the 2015 film Fallen. An adaptation of Lauren Kate’s young adult fantasy/romance novel that will find Timlin’s character caught in a romantic triangle between two very unusual suitors. Whether she is stealing scenes or battling masked psychopaths, Addison Timlin is a beautiful young woman and versatile actress we want to see a lot more of, no matter what the genre!…and a more than worthy Halloween Hottie Of 2014!
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And don’t forget to check out our previous Halloween Hotties focusing on, Briana EviganKatrina BowdenAlexandra DaddarioKatie FeatherstonKatharine IsabelleAmber Heard and Danielle Harris! (just click on their names to go to their pages!)

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S BEST HORROR FLICKS of 2014!

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Everyone has their own taste in horror films and everyone’s favorite horror flicks from the past year will vary from fiend to femme fatale. So, with that in mind, here are MonsterZero NJ’s 10 favorite horrors of 2014 along with five honorable mentions that warrant a shout out (scream out?) too!

(There are a few titles here initially released in 2013 but, I did not catch up to them till home media in 2014 and felt it unfair not to include them.)

(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews!)

 

Click on the titles here to go to the review page for the corresponding movie!

  1. OCULUS
  2. THE BABADOOK
  3. THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (2014)
  4. WE ARE WHAT WE ARE (remake)
  5. ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE
  6. OPEN GRAVE
  7. AT THE DEVIL’S DOOR
  8. PATRICK: EVIL AWAKENS
  9. NURSE
  10. SEE NO EVIL 2

HONORABLE MENTIONS

  1. ODD THOMAS
  2. THE SACRAMENT
  3. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES
  4. DEVIL’S DUE
  5. DELIVER US FROM EVIL

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: ODD THOMAS (2013)

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ODD THOMAS (2013)

Even someone like me who has been watching movies for almost five decades and can be very cynical about them at times can be pleasantly surprised occasionally by a movie I wasn’t expecting much from. Odd Thomas is one of those pleasant surprises. Based on a book of the same name and the following series of novels by Dean Koontz, Stephen Sommers’ adaptation tells the story of Odd Thomas (Anton Yelchin) an eccentric young fellow who lives in Pico Mundo, a small town in California, and has a very unique talent. He is a clairvoyant who not only sees dead people, but other unearthly spirits as well. Odd Thomas…his real name…uses his special gifts to not only bring justice to those whose deaths are caused by foul play, but to thwart evil in general whenever it rears it’s ugly head. He has a beautiful, loving girlfriend, Stormy (Addison Timlin) who understands his powers and is very supportive and acts as a sidekick. He also has a good friend in the local police chief (Willem Dafoe) who is grateful to Thomas’ ability to find the guilty and prevent heinous acts before they are committed. But there is an evil brewing in Pico Mundo signaled by the appearance of a strange man (Shuler Hensley) surrounded by demons and a rash of nightmares suffered by Odd, and some close to him, that foretell of a coming doom…a doom that even Odd Thomas may not be able to stop. But Odd is going to try, even if it costs him his life.

Despite being a far smaller film than Mummy and G.I. Joe director Stephen Sommers is used to, he brings his creative energy and fine-tunes his over-the-top style to give Odd Thomas a fast paced and eccentric tone that perfectly fits the material. He also creates some very creepy moments with his visual eye and crafts some very tense and suspenseful sequences, especially in the nail-biting last act. But what really made Odd Thomas a special treat for me was the combination of Sommers’ witty script banter and the wonderful work from his cast, especially lead Anton Yelchin. Yelchin creates a very likable hero who is saddled with a great burden and yet, not only uses it to do good and defeat evil, but is actually happy to do so. The banter between he and adorable leading lady Addison Timlin really creates a delightful character dynamic between the two and totally makes the relationship between this strange, yet noble, young man and his spunky and fiery girlfriend, work. It’s very effective and makes you really care about both of them. The same goes when either character is onscreen with Dafoe. The dynamic between the three characters is a delight to watch and really is what makes an already good supernatural suspense thriller even more enjoyable. Timlin and the veteran Dafoe shine in their parts and are great support for what is Yelchin’s show, one he carries to perfection. Shuler Hensley is also creepy and unsettling as “Fungus Bob”…Odd’s name for the man who triggers the events of the film…but he is just the tip of the iceberg and I will say no more as the less you know going in, the better it draws you into Odd’s attempt to uncover the diabolical plot in the making.

Odd Thomas is an odd and off-beat but very effective film from a writer/director usually more at home with bigger, more comic book-style stories. But here he shows he can also take things down a few notches and gives us some chills and entertainment on a smaller and more intimate scale. He can also gives us some very endearing and three dimensional characters to go with his story. And this book-based story of evil, both supernatural and human created, and the young man who stands in it’s way, is very entertaining if anything. A really fun and very plesant surprise. Shame this flick is getting dumped unceremoniously onto home media when so much junk gets a theatrical release.

Check out my review of Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas book series HERE.

3 and 1/2 baseball bats.

odd thomas rating

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